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Effect of Bone Marrow Composition Changes With Age

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Published: Fri, 09 Mar 2018


A short 100 word lay-person summary

The project is about the investigation into the bone marrow composition changes with age between the two genders and its effect on the structure MRI technique fineSA. It utilizes MR to excite the rectangular prism shape volume in the human body to generate a signal that is processed to provide information about anatomical structure of interest. It will be conducted in a 12 weeks period commencing with literature review of relevant journals and conference papers relating the topic. It will be followed by the modelling of a bone marrow phantom aimed at adding a uniform composition structure that will control the outcome of the project. It will then be concluded with the analysis of the processed clinical data for both genders with different age range.


The main aim of this project is to identify a trend between different gender subjects with a varying range of ages from 18-80 and other measures of signal which can be attributed to bone marrow composition and its effect on the fineSA technique. FineSA is a technique that defines anatomical structures using MR data by acquiring data from rectangular prisms located in the anatomical region and region of interest. It is currently unknown what happens to the fineSA in regards to bone marrow (BM) changes. By identifying the trend it will enable the technique to be adjusted to suit each subject and not generalise its bone marrow applications as it is currently done. The research will fill a gap in the industry concerning the bone marrow composition (BMC) changes with ages with the use of the fineSA techniques.


  • Carry out a detailed literature research related to BMC changes with age and sex. Relevant journals and conference papers will be analysed to support the research work.
  • The modelling of a bone marrow phantom to observe the effect of fat will be accomplished. The fluid around the phantom will simulate the bone marrow and that will give the signal expected.
  • Analysis and evaluation of a clinical data set for different gender ages ranging 18-80 will be carried out. It will be started by looking at the k0 on the spectra with respect to the age and the expected bone marrow composition. The data obtained from the company is made of spectra in Matlab format and the relevant information will be extracted in Matlab. It will also be necessary to investigate the effect of noise as noise is measured during the acquisition.

Resources and necessary approvals

I will need to complete Human Subjects Protection training in order to work with patient data. It is used to fulfil the requirement for education in the protection of human subjects. The ethical review board that approved this study is Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) located in the USA. There are no known health risks associated with this research.

Literature review

According to the literatures, bone marrow does changes with age and becomes fatty and so it is expected to give a higher signal in the MR technique used.

According to an early studies conducted, for daughters and their parents to compare (BMF) content assessed by inphase and out-of-phase MRI in between family members. It was found that the daughters had less BMF and BM whole body and regions where BMF was assessed than their mothers and fathers. This was in agreement with a previous studies that link increased BMF with age [1].

MR spectroscopy studies have demonstrate that vertebral fat content increases as the bone density (BD) decreases. Several literatures have suggested a relationship between bone mineral content and bone marrow fat (BMF) which has been found to lead to bone weakness. A study was conducted on fifty-six female patients with the age range 50–65 years to assess vertebral bone marrow fat (BMF) content’s relationship with osteoporosis by the use of chemical-shift magnetic resonance imaging (CS-MRI). It was however concluded that BMF content calculated with CS-MRI was not reliable for predicting bone mineral density in female patients aged between 50 and 65 years and so further research was recommended [2].

Differences in the relationship between BMF and bone has also been attributed to the potential ethnic differences in African American and Caucasian men and women. This was shown in a study done to evaluate the relationship between BMAT and BMD for potential sex and ethnic differences within a large sample with DXA and whole-body MRI data. The results obtained was found to be consistent with a previous findings done in Caucasian women and of Asian men and women. However there is reported inverse association between BMF and BMD in studies of men and women without ethnicity explicitly [3].

A further study conducted on 211 subjects also suggested that BMC changes are different for both male and female subjects. The largest change in the BMC in the lumbar spine was seen to have occurred from 5 to 24 years in the male subjects. Conversely, the largest decrease occurred after 45 years in female subjects. In an earlier research by Dunnill et al. [4] to investigate the changes in cellular and BMF in the vertebral bodies and correlate those changes with age and sex, no differences between the sexes for age-related variations was found. This also implied more research need to be done to ascertain the relationship between BMC and age and sex [5].


The project will be managed with the aid of programme of work with details on a Gantt chart that list all the tasks dates. The milestones mark the completion of a task and meetings with the supervisor for review.

  • Literature research (2 week)

A review of relevant literatures in relation to BMC changes with age and gender.

Outcome 1: Literature review finished and theories for further research have been studied.

  • Phantom Modelling (2 week)

Arrangement will be made with the company for this to be carried out

Outcome 2: Pantom modelled and analysed.

  • Data analysis and evaluation (3 week)

The clinical data will be analysed will be carried out at this stage and then evaluated.

Outcome 3: Data analysed and a conclusion drawn.

  • Draft write up (2 week)

Write the first draft of the dissertation which will be presented to the research supervisor for review.

Outcome 4: Complete first drafted of the report.

  • Final dissertation (2 week)

The final copy will be produced and reviewed for any errors and ethical issues by supervisor and then submitted.

Outcome 5: Complete the final report for submission.

  • Contingency (1 week)

This is an open period where any problems encountered will be dealt with.


The research plan was conducted to evaluate the purpose and methodologies that will be employed for the project to be successful. With the timelines drafted and the resources effectively utilised the project is expected to be successful. At the end of the project, the results should guide the industry in use of the fineSA with bone marrow composition changes with age application. If it is concluded that there is a trend in the bone marrow composition changes with age, it will require changes made to the technique used in acquiring the signals. This could lead to having to adjust for composition the current technique used.

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